Discussion Topic

Character analysis and identification in "A Rose for Emily"

Summary:

"A Rose for Emily" features Emily Grierson, a reclusive and mysterious figure whose life reflects the decay of the Old South. Her father, Mr. Grierson, is controlling and overprotective, leading to her isolation. Homer Barron, a Northern laborer, becomes her romantic interest but meets a tragic end. The townspeople serve as a collective narrator, reflecting societal norms and judgments.

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What type of character is Emily in "A Rose for Emily"?

When discussing Emily Grierson's characterization, it should be remembered that "A Rose for Emily" is told from the perspective of the larger community in which she inhabits (and a community from which she is held at a distance). This lends her character an enigmatic quality, as many of the relevant details of her life are implied in the narrative rather than depicted within it. This is very much a purposeful decision on Faulkner's part: in a way, Emily exists as an object of fascination more than anything else, a subject of rumor and hearsay, rarely interacting with the people from whose viewpoint the story is told.

From this perspective, I think Emily can be labeled a symbolic character as much as anything else, given the degree to which she is written as embodying the social culture and mores of the Old South (a world that is rapidly disappearing within the time period in which the story is set). Indeed, this sense by which Emily Grierson exists as a relic to a bygone age, and a direct link to a fading past, is a critical component as to why she is such an object of fascination within the community, even as she remains at a distance.

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Who is the main character in "A Rose for Emily"?

This is an interesting question with two possible and perhaps equally defensible answers. One could argue that Miss Emily Grierson is the main character of the story, certainly; however, one could also argue just as persuasively that the narrator is the main character of the story.

Obviously, the narrative details many events of Miss Emily's life, from her youth through her father's death and her relationship with Homer Barron to her development into an old woman who fits in with society even less than she did as a young woman. We see the conflict between her and her father as a young woman as well as the conflict between her and society as she grows older. However, we equally witness the reactions of the townspeople to her presence, or lack thereof, and by the time the climax of the story occurs—when the narrator describes how the townspeople discover the moldering corpse of Homer Barron in Miss Emily's bed—Miss Emily is already dead herself.

In many ways, we are encouraged to identify with the narrator more than with Miss Emily, who has closed herself off from the rest of society, and the reader's tendency to relate to the narrator helps lend credibility to the idea that the narrator is actually the story's main character rather than Emily herself.

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What type of protagonist is Emily in "A Rose for Emily"?

William Faulkner’s short story “A Rose for Emily” falls very much into the genre of macabre literature. The tale of a woman from a once-prosperous family who was isolated from society by an overprotective father and who essentially kidnaps the one man to whom she gives herself, keeping his dead body in her bed for eternity, involves a category of protagonist that departs from the conventional wisdom regarding character classification. “Protagonist,” as opposed to “antagonist,” suggests positive features in a character, while “antagonist” would seem to imply a villainous character. At minimum, an antagonist is a character determined to prevent the protagonist from succeeding at a presumably positive endeavor. Emily, however, is not a positive character; on the contrary, she is far from admirable in any way, existing as a reclusive figure who, in Faulkner’s day, would have been referred to as a spinster known as much for her failure to pay her taxes as for her “failure” to wed.

Miss Emily Grierson is the protagonist of Faulkner’s story. She is the kind of protagonist, though, who embodies no particular traits for which to commend her. She is the protagonist simply because she is the central character in Faulkner’s story, and the figure whose actions propel the narrative. Emily is the kind of protagonist who is featured in stories about sociopaths and psychopaths—hardly the definition of protagonist that one would ordinarily expect.

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Who is the antagonist in "A Rose for Emily"?

This is a particularly tricky question. Emily would be the easy choice as she has had an undesirable relationship that ends with his death and her denial. Yet, it can be argued that her father's overbearing ways and his constant disapproval of her led her to make the desperate choices she makes.

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Who is Emily Grierson in "A Rose for Emily"?

The enigmatic main character of William Faulkner's short story "A Rose for Emily" is a product of the Old South.

The townsfolk narrator tells that Emily is an old woman who lives alone in a house which is described as

an eyesore among eyesores.

Emily hardly ever leaves her home, and her looks are, according to witnesses, consistently deteriorating. As far as her temperament goes, it is clear that her reclusive nature has turned her eccentric, particularly in her overall inability of letting go of her Southern aristocratic past. She does this by refusing to pay taxes in the county of Jefferson, where she lives, because the first Colonel who led the town back when she was young had exempted her father from doing so. Yet, she still believes that the same rights will apply to her.

As a family member, we learn that Emily is an only child whose closest relatives are her female, meddling cousins. Emily has also been a proud and loyal daughter to her father who engulfed her life choices and decisions to the point of running off potential suitors, and separating her from the rest of the town. The result of this was that Emily developed a co-dependent relationship with her father and, after he died, she went as far as refusing to give up his body.

We learn that Emily may even have had artistic talents prior to her death. She kept a coal sketch of her father, gave art lessons for a while, and just like that, she disappeared from the public view.

As a woman, Emily Grierson found love in the person of Homer Barron; a drifter and a Yankee who came to Jefferson as part of a construction team. Younger than Emily, loud, rambunctious, and presumably even showing bisexual tendencies, Homer was not liked by the people of Jefferson, but was tolerated simply because he escorted the otherwise lonely Emily.

As a human being, Emily Grierson displayed the typical emotions of someone who fears loneliness terribly. In an erratic attempt to keep Homer, who left town apparently to never come back, Emily lures back and after poisoning him with arsenic, keeps his body in her bedroom until the day that she dies and is found by the townsfolk.

In all, Emily is a scared soul whose loneliness and co-dependent upbringing led her to remain socially unfit, and unable to make healthy human connections.

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Who is the round character in "A Rose for Emily"?

Emily Grierson is a round character in this story although we never really get her point of view of things.

The town is also well-developed as a "character" since we have the whole story from the point of view of an unknown townsperson who explains the town's reactions to things as the story unfolds.

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Who is the round character in "A Rose for Emily"?

In this story, the town is a round character, the South, is forced to change in order to survive after the Civil War. 

"The narrator in ‘‘A Rose for Emily’’ notes a change in the character of his town when Jefferson’s Board of Aldermen attempts to collect Emily’s taxes."

While Emily refuses to change or recognize that the world around her is no longer populated by privilged planation owners, she becomes an obstacle to progress. 

"The newer generations are further and further away from the antiquated social mores of their forebears. The men who try to collect Emily’s taxes don’t operate under the same code of conduct as their grandfathers and great-grandfathers did. Emily is not a ‘‘damsel in distress’’ to these men; she is a nuisance, a hindrance to progress."    

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Who is the round character in "A Rose for Emily"?

A round character is a major character in a fictional work who encounters conflict and experiences change. They are also fully developed. You should pick the obvious, Emily Grierson. She experiences the loss of her overprotective father, insanity in her family and the constant change in the town around her. It is, in fact, ironic that her resistance to change as the town modernizes is what sets her apart as a developed character. She refuses to be molded by the possibility of change, even resorting to act of murder to keep a loved one close. ewww I said "molded"

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Who are the characters in "A Rose for Emily" and how would you identify them?

The characters in “A Rose for Emily” consist of major players and minor yet influential characters with lasting effects.

Emily Grierson is the title character, a spinster descended from Southern gentry who dies at age seventy-four alone in a formerly glorious, now-decrepit family house. Emily is more complex than she appears: small and childlike when young, gaunt and severe with “iron-gray” hair when elderly. Despite her limited contact with townspeople, she has a strong personality when interacting with them. She does not budge in face of law—she refuses to pay taxes and divulge her planned use of arsenic before purchasing it. Both a beneficiary and victim of her family’s high social status, Emily is the object of townspeople’s gossip.

The narrator is the first-person plural “we” representing the townspeople. At first seemingly omniscient but later revealed to be limited, the narrator presents a biased view of Emily and the events. Initially, the “we” is a nosy busybody who describes Emily’s family history and snobbery, her overprotective father, her past suitors, and her actions with judgment and mock pity; by the end, however, “we” are shocked when discovering Emily’s homicidal scheme.

Emily’s father—who is dead before the story begins—was an overbearing patriarchal figure who perpetuated his family’s aristocratic arrogance toward others. He prevented Emily from interacting with any potential suitors, considering none “good enough” for her. Emily’s father is remembered by the townspeople as

a spraddled silhouette in the foreground, his back to her and clutching a horsewhip, the two of them framed by the back-flung front door.

After his death and into her later years, Emily keeps a portrait of her father in a prominent place: “on a tarnished gilt easel before the fireplace.”

Homer Barron is Emily’s last suitor, a “Yankee—a big, dark, ready man, with a big voice and eyes lighter than his face.” As a Northern day laborer, Barron is not from Emily’s gentry class; he curses and sings while working and socializing with common folk. Unlike Emily, he often is the center of attention. Nonetheless, he attracts Emily, and the townspeople

see him and Miss Emily on Sunday afternoons driving in the yellow-wheeled buggy.

Emily seems to be defying social expectations by fraternizing with him. He also

liked men, and it was known that he drank with the younger men in the Elks’ Club—that he was not a marrying man.

The narrator seems to imply that Barron is either gay or a confirmed bachelor. In either case, he is not a likely suitor for Emily if she wishes to marry him. At the end of the story, Barron’s corpse is found in Miss Emily’s house after her death. His dead body was preserved by Miss Emily and ominously topped with one long strand of “iron-gray” hair.

Tobe is Emily’s loyal “old man-servant—a combined gardener and cook” who lives with and grows old with Emily. He lets in and shows rare visitors to the door. He waits on her until he becomes "doddering" and "grayer and more stooped.” Referred to as “the Negro” or “the old Negro,” Tobe has little to no contact with others:

He talked to no one, probably not even to her, for his voice had grown harsh and rusty, as if from disuse.

After Emily’s death, he leaves without much notice.

Mayor Judge Stevens (age eighty) and members of the Board of Aldermen (“three graybeards and one younger man, a member of the rising generation”) are four white men who try to collect taxes from Emily. They are dismissed from her home with no success. Later, they stealthily investigate the source of the stench at her house but find no cause.

The druggist is a pharmacist whom Emily consults when she seeks poison. He is stared down by Miss Emily, who refuses to divulge her reason for needing the arsenic. The druggist caves under her glare and sells her arsenic without her justification.

The Baptist minister speaks with Emily after shocked ladies in the town ask him to because of her relations with Homer Barron. The minister refuses to “divulge what happened during that interview, but he refused to go back again.”

The minister's wife writes to Emily's relatives.

Two female cousins come to live with Emily, perhaps as a result of the minister’s wife’s letter. They also return to town after Emily’s death and hold her funeral.

Characters from past who are not active in the present story but affect present action and attitudes include the following.

Colonel Sartoris is the former mayor who exempted the Grierson family from paying taxes.

Old Lady Wyatt is Emily’s great-aunt who had gone completely crazy but also perpetuated the Grierson family’s snobbery.

A suitor who courted Emily after her father’s death was a “sweetheart—the one we believed would marry her—[yet] had deserted her.”

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Who are the main characters in "A Rose for Emily"?

The point of view of narration in "A Rose for Emily" is a person who, like Miss Emily Grierson, lives in Jefferson.

Much of the story consists of the unnamed narrator talking about Emily and her interactions with people in the past tense; in other words, it is a retrospective stance. Emily Grierson's words, actions, and interactions are described. The narrator also reports on conversations that others have about Emily, such as one that occurs between the mayor, Judge Stevens, and both an individual lady and a delegation of men.

There is Tobe, Emily's African-American domestic helper, and Homer Barron, a Yankee who courts, then plans to abandon, Emily. There is also the town druggist, from whom Emily purchases the rat poison that presumably kills Homer Barron.

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Who are the main characters in "A Rose for Emily"?

To me, there are four main characters in this story.  They are:

  • Miss Emily Grierson
  • Her father
  • Tobe, the black man who is her butler and all around attendant
  • Homer Barron

While these are not the only characters, and while some of them do not actually appear much in the story, they are the ones who drive what happens.

Miss Emily, of course, is the main character.  But her life is completely affected by her father and his penchant for chasing men out of her life.  Homer Barron is very important because he is her one chance for love and it is his death that pushes her over the edge.

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What is the Characterization in "A Rose for Emily"?

Emily Grierson is the most drawn out character. She is described as an idol for the town to worship or tear down, an out-of-touch, isolated woman and the last member of a family whose time has passed.
Faulkner introduces the thread of insanity in her family to foreshadow the upcoming plot. What he leaves out, however, is an internal monologue to shed light on the thought process she undertakes. We see Emily only through her words and actions. Her dismissal of the town's progress show in her an inability to change. She is clinging to something and refuses to let go.

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Who are the characters of the story "A Rose for Emily" and their descriptions?

Enotes gives a brief description of the characters and the story on the link below.  Here are some other ideas to get you started.

Miss Emily Grierson - she is the protagonist of the story.  The story spans a good portion of her life.  She is indepedent, unmarried, and stubborn.  She sticks to her families ways even when all of her family is gone. Her sanity is also in question because of what happens at the end of the story

Homer Barron - a love interest of Emily's.  He is a .man's man' - very popular, but he is not a gentleman.  

The cousins - Emily's cousins brought in by the town to try and 'fix' her behavior.  They are as the town says worse than Emily

The town - the narrator of the story is plural indicating the town.  The town is nosy and intrusive, but they are also intimidated by Miss Emily so they watch her from afar for most of the time. 

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Give the short description of all characters in "A Rose for Emily" by William Faulkner.

I would add to the previous post that for a short story, the characters in this one are so complex.  The most important character is Miss Emily, and while she may be lonely, she is also a murderer!  She buys arsenic and makes sure that Homer doesn't leave her -- she is desparate for love and company.  The final detail of the story, the long gray hair on the pillow, suggests that she slept with the corpse of Homer for at least a couple of years after his death.

The narrator seems to be of the younger generation and knows that he has a great story to tell.  In giving us a stream of consciousness narration, we learn all the details, but don't learn the full weight of Miss Emily's story until the narrator wants us to, in the final lines.  He manages to create a sympathetic character in Miss Emily, even though we are shocked by her actions.  The other characters of the story all highlight the plight of Emily.  Her father was over-controlling; Homer was "not a marrying man;" her servant was loyal because a Negro in this time period knew better than to get mixed up in the murder/disappearance of white man. 

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Give the short description of all characters in "A Rose for Emily" by William Faulkner.

In William Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily," the major characters are the narrator, Emily Grierson, Homer Barron, and Emily's father, although there are some other minor characters in the story.

The narrator remains unnamed throughout the story and takes on the first person plural voice of neighbors/spectators in the town.  The narrator knows much about Miss Emily's family background and is interested to see how her life turns out.

Emily Grierson is the daughter of a long line of Griersons who have lived in the town for generations.  Emily now lives alone since her father passed away some years ago.  She has one caretaker who looks after the yard and house, but she herself is rarely seen outside.  Emily is described as a lonely woman who was sheltered for much of her life by her father. 

Homer Barron is the man with whom Miss Emily eventually falls in love.  Homer is a worker from the North, so he does not know much about Emily's past.  One day, he decides to end their relationship, but Emily has other plans, and the end of the story suggests that she murders him.

Finally, Emily's father was very protective of his daughters and drove away any suitors that she might possibly have.  As a result, she continued living with him until he passed away.

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Who is the narrator in "A Rose for Emily"?

Faulkner's famous short story "A Rose for Emily" is narrated by an unknown outsider. The narrator is not one of the main characters in the story (like Emily or her father) and gives us only a limited perspective (the narrator is not omniscient and must guess and speculate about Emily's motives and about what goes on in her home). The narrator is never named in the story and seems to have no specific relationship to Emily, other than that he or she lives in the same town where Emily lives.

The narrative voice of "A Rose for Emily" adds to the sort of "gossipy" feel of the story. We often hear about what neighbors think or assume about Emily. They are very interested in her and they are very judgmental of her. However, no one in the town seems to ever have been close with her. She is an object of curiosity and scrutiny. Emily and her father stand as symbols of a past time, namely the antebellum South. Emily is seen clinging to the past in many ways, as seen in the way she refuses to pay taxes, retains a black manservant, and even in the way she clings to Homer's long-dead corpse (as revealed after Emily's death, which is the only point at which outsiders can gain any access into her home). Emily also seems to think highly of herself and her family's name and legacy, and because she does so, at least in the eyes of the townspeople, the other citizens resent her and take pleasure in her failures and humiliations. 

The narrator appears to be from a younger generation and represents the voice of the common citizen of this Mississippi town. As such, the narrator is curious about Emily, reports on the rumors about her, and feels both sorry for her and satisfied when it is revealed that she wasn't so much better than the rest of them after all. 

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Describe the narrator of "A Rose for Emily."

The narrator in Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily" is a group of townspeople: 1st person plural (collective) "we."  This is rare in literature to have many voices distilled into one.

The narrators are outside narrators.  They once might have had access to Miss Emily's house parlor, but not any more.  They have never had access to her upstairs bridal suite.  As such, the story is essentially all gossip, rumor, and speculation.

You can make a case that the group is either all male or female.  There is a male authorial tone to the narration: the men confront her about the taxes.  The men spread lime around the house.  There is a male gaze, an objectification of Emily as "other" (hence, the rose).  They represent the patriarchal tradition (male – law – authority):

Colonel Sartoris, the mayor--he who fathered the edict that … the dispensation dating from the death of her father on into perpetuity.

AND:

We are the city authorities, Miss Emily. Didn't you get a notice from the sheriff, signed by him?

There's also an implicit female voice buried in the narration: the last people granted access to the house were the women who would have taken China painting classes from Miss Emily.  Since they were the last, maybe they began the rumors...

Overall, it's hard to tell which gender is exclusive.  Maybe it's a mix.  So says, Enotes:

There are hints as to the age, race, gender, and class of the narrator, but an identity is never actually revealed. Isaac Rodman notes in The Faulkner Journal that the critical consensus remains that the narrator speaks for his community. (Rodman, however, goes on to present a convincing argument that the narrator may be a loner or eccentric of some kind speaking from ‘‘ironic detachment.’’)

Faulkner uses these narrators to heighten the suspense of the story.  It is the reverse of dramatic irony (when the audience knows what is going to happen before the characters).  Here, Miss Emily knows what has happened to Homer Baron, but we do not, until the end (after she dies).

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Who is the narrator of "A Rose for Emily"?

This question has also been previously asked and answered.  Please see the links below, and thank you for using eNotes.

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Who is the narrator of "A Rose for Emily"?

The narrator is not named in “A Rose for Emily.” However, the narrator refers to himself as “we,” and the town as “ours,” so critics have attributed the identity of the narrator to the town itself. Use of an unidentified narrator contributes to the unreliable quality of the narration, a literary technique popularized by Faulkner’s forerunner Edgar Allan Poe.

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In "A Rose for Emily," who is the narrator?

The short answer to that question is that nobody knows who the narrator is.  Or you could say that the only person who truly knows the narrator's identity is William Faulkner himself.  

The narrator remains unnamed for the entire story.  The narrator uses the collective pronoun "we" in reference to himself or herself.  It's not even known if the narrator is male or female.  "We" allows the narrator at times to be the collective voice of the town itself or the townspeople as a whole.  Critics also disagree on who exactly the narrator is.  Some say that he/she is a former lover of Emily's or even the town gossip.  There is some speculation that the narrator is Emily's servent -- Tobe.  This suggestion has some merit, because the narrator has a fairly intimate knowledge of Emily.  At times, the narrator refers to Emily as "Miss Emily," which sounds like the language a servant might use.  

At one point near the end of the story, the narrator switches over to the pronoun "they."  It's only briefly and very subtle, but it functions as a way to distance the narrator from the townsfolk.  The reader is meant to interpret this as a sign that whoever the narrator is, it is someone that cared for Emily more than a common townsperson.  

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Who is the narrator and what does he say about Emily in "A Rose for Emily"?

In Faulkner's "A Rose For Emily," the narrator is unidentified, but he relates the story from the point of view of the townspeople.  He begins his story:

When Miss Emily died, our whole town went to her funeral:...

So we know he is a person from the town, since he uses "our." 

He tells us that Emily tried to keep her father's body in the home with her and did so for five days until she was somewhat forced to give it up.  He tells us she was courted by an outsider named Homer.  He tells us Emily bought rat poison.  He tells us that Homer disappeared, and then he tells us that after Emily died a skeleton was found in an upstairs bedroom of her home, as was a hair that matched Emily's, on a pillow beside the skeleton. 

He says many other things about Emily as well.  If you're looking for something other than what I've written, feel free to email me and I'll try to help.

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Who is the narrator in "A Rose for Emily"?

To understand for whom the short story "A Rose for Emily" by William Faulkner was written, it is important to grasp the overall plot of the story and the identity of the narrator. The story takes place in a fictional town called Jefferson in the state of Mississippi. It begins at the funeral of Emily Grierson, which the entire population of the town attends. Miss Emily has been an eccentric fixture of the town for decades, living in an old house that had once been elegant but has now fallen into decay, attended only by an elderly African American man.

The story is told by an unnamed narrator, who seems to represent the people of the town. He doesn't refer to himself as an individual, but rather as "we," as if he speaks for the entire population. Additionally, he does not tell the story in chronological order, but in a rambling fashion, going back and forth in time as if sharing details as they occur to him.

According to the narrator, Emily and her father held themselves aloof from the townspeople. None of the local young men were good enough for her. When her father dies, he leaves her the house but not much money, and that's when her eccentricity begins to set in. She briefly dates a visiting construction foreman named Homer Barron, but then the man disappears. Soon after, a horrible smell comes from Emily's home, which the townspeople attempt to disperse by spreading chemicals around it. Just before the smell started, she had bought some poison, but the townspeople don't make the connection right away between the poison and Homer's disappearance.

After Emily's funeral, however, the townspeople crowd into her house and find Homer's desiccated corpse lying on a bed in a locked room. There is evidence that Emily may have slept or rested there sometimes, too.

In summary, the story of Emily's life by the unnamed narrator is told after the discovery of Homer Barron's corpse in Emily's home, where it has evidently been for a long time. We can only speculate whom the narrator was speaking to, but it is possible he is explaining how the corpse came to be there to police investigators or to reporters. Attempting to relate Emily's backstory under the pressure of an investigation would account for the disjointed narrative and also for the way that he says "we" when referring to the townspeople in general.

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Who is Homer in "A Rose for Emily"?

IN this story, Homer Barron is the man that Emily Grierson was supposed to marry (or at least that is what she thought).

Homer was a man who came from up North.  He was in town as the boss of a gang of workers who were working on the roads.  While in town, he started going out with Miss Emily.  She clearly thought that they were going to marry even though he publicly said he wasn't interested in marriage.

She appears to have killed him after he, presumably, told her they weren't getting married.

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